NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Former Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist died following surgery and a short illness, officials announced Sunday. He was 87. 

Sundquist was born in Moline, Illinois, in 1936, and went on to graduate from Augustana College. He not only served in the U.S. Navy, but he also spent years in the printing and advertising industry in Shelbyville and Memphis before being elected to Congress. He served six terms in Congress, where he later earned the reputation as a staunch fiscal conservative.

Sundquist was elected as Tennessee’s governor in 1994 and was re-elected for a second term in 1998.

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Under his leadership, Tennessee was able to set record levels of economic development, establish a ground-breaking welfare reform program and implement comprehensive crime laws that focused on victims’ rights. 

During Sundquist’s tenure as governor, two national sport franchises were brought to the state: the Tennessee Titans and Nashville Predators. 

Sundquist died at Baptist East Hospital in Memphis the morning of Sunday, Aug. 27, according to The Associated Press, citing a family spokeswoman.

Former First Lady Martha Sundquist released a brief statement regarding her husband’s passing: “We are comforted by our faith and friends, and know he is with our Lord and loved ones in heaven.”

Numerous Tennessee lawmakers, as well as former lawmakers, expressed their condolences to the Sundquist family following news of the former governor’s death:

Governor Sundquist was an impactful leader and principled statesman who devoted his life to public service. As Tennessee’s governor for two terms, he contributed to our state’s legacy of fiscal responsibility and expanded opportunity for Tennesseans through historic economic development. Maria and I join all Tennesseans in honoring Governor Sundquist’s remarkable life, and we pray God’s comfort over Martha and their family in the days ahead.

Gov. Bill Lee

Chuck and I are saddened to hear of former Gov. Don Sundquist’s passing. He was a good man, who served our country and state faithfully in the U.S. Navy, as Congressman, and as Governor. We join Tennesseans in prayer for his wife Martha, 3 children, and grandchildren. 

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn

Don Sundquist was a loyal friend and a man with a good heart. He helped our state prosper & expanded health insurance for Tennesseans. He put the state ahead of his own political interests. The Alexander family sends to Martha & their family our sympathy & respect for Don’s life.

Former U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander

“Don foremost loved the people of this state. He loved politics and believed good politics led to a thriving democracy that lifted up all people. He and Martha enjoyed together getting to intimately and caringly know people in every corner of the state. Most of all, Don understood the value of genuine bipartisanship and relationships across the aisle in order to get things done. Don Sundquist, Fred Thompson, and I developed deep and lasting friendships during our 1994 campaigns as we traveled Tennessee that year, and in the years of statewide service where we worked hand in hand — Don at each step led the way.”

Former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist

I was a State Senator for the eight years that Don Sundquist served as Governor of Tennessee, and we had a very fine relationship. I respected him and developed a friendship, unlike many others with whom I served. We had the ability to find common ground on important issues, such as the public voting on the state lottery, tax benefits that helped with the funding of AutoZone Park, a wildflower program along our interstate highway system, as well as a 70 miles-per-hour interstate speed limit.

Don Sundquist was a man of his word who never forgot Memphis. He had a most decent and professional staff, and a loving and caring wife and good kids. He was a man of good character and moral rectitude, and his was a life well lived.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen

Roberta and I are saddened to learn of the passing of Don Sundquist. Over his long and successful career, Don Sundquist has served as a business leader, Member of Congress, and Governor. In public office and out of public office, Don Sundquist cared greatly and profoundly about the people of Tennessee and worked tirelessly for their betterment. Don was a true friend to both Roberta and me. He will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, former First Lady of Tennessee, Martha and their children, Tania, Andrea, and Deke.

U.S. Rep. David Kustoff

Governor Don Sundquist was a passionate public servant for the people of Tennessee. His service didn’t stop after his elected years, he continued helping others and our communities. Our prayers are with Martha, their children, and grandchildren.

Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton

Sadly, I have just learned of the passing of the 47th Governor of Tennessee, Don Sundquist. He served our Republican Party at every level over the course of his life beginning as young republican, party officer, Congressman, and ultimately Governor of Tennessee. During my tenure as Chair, I have absolutely enjoyed our conversations and most importantly the profound wisdom and insightful advice of Governor Sundquist. His legacy of service and accomplishments continue to be displayed everyday in the greatness of Tennessee. Our deepest prayers are extended to First Lady Martha Sundquist and the entire Sundquist family.

Chairman Scott Golden of the Tennessee Republican Party

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The former governor is survived by his wife of 64 years; their children, Andrea, Tania (David), and Deke; and their beloved granddaughters: Gabby (Markos) and Alex. 

A funeral service will take place at First Lutheran Evangelical Church in downtown Nashville on Sept.5 at 11 a.m. Sundquist will lie in state in the Rotunda of the Tennessee State Capitol on the same day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A spokesperson said the public is invited to both.